Subtle resistance: How Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Martha Jackson resisted post-World War II gender constructions
Maier, Angelica J.
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"Subtle Resistance: How Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Martha Jackson Resisted Post-World War II Gender Constructions" explores the careers of three women in postwar New York City—artists commonly referred to as "second generation" Abstract Expressionist painters, Grace Hartigan and Joan Mitchell, and gallerist Martha Jackson. Following the Second World War, the distinctions between men and women, and masculinity and femininity grew. It is in this polarized social field that Hartigan and Mitchell were able to carve out success, claim agency over the formation of their artistic identities, and overall resist the gender constructions that were so pervasive to postwar American culture. Martha Jackson, a Buffalo native who opened the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York City in 1953, played an important role in the careers of Hartigan and Mitchell and ensured continued progress in their careers during the tumultuous 1960s. Chapter 1 examines the gendered construction of postwar American culture and the exemplary career of Martha Jackson, an independent woman who challenged traditional notions of a woman's role in society. Chapter 2 explores how Hartigan and Mitchell navigated the gendered tensions of the New York School. Chapter 3 studies how Hartigan and Mitchell's artistic styles reflect their construction of identity in relation to art historical tradition and the use of a controlled expressivity in their work. Archival materials from the Martha Jackson Gallery Archives at the UB Anderson Gallery and the Grace Hartigan Papers at the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University, as well as periodicals, oral history interviews and other primary sources provide a new perspective of the social history of the time. With this new perspective, the challenges Hartigan, Mitchell, and Jackson faced become clearer, as do their means of resistance.